No 1 (97) 2014
January - March

Somewhat Strange

Surrealistic spirit, strangeness that escapes logic, unreal connections between human body, its attire and objects, an alliance of the world of nature and culture – in brief, these have been the main areas of interest of Grzegorz Kozera, a young generation painter.

Agnieszka Maria Wasieczko

B. in 1974. Art. historian, critic. She publishes texts on contemporary art.

Agnieszka Maria Wasieczko

"THE ODDITY IS BEAUTIFUL, each oddity is beautiful, only oddity is beautiful" - André Breton, surrealists' "guru" has written. As Magdalena Sołtys, the curator of the exhibition at the Very White Gallery, rightly observed, his words can easily refer to the oeuvre by Grzegorz Kozera (born in 1983) who, through his sensual painting stimulates his own sensitivity and glides over meanders of associations, culture trails and "entangled meanings" in order to convey the most rudimentary truths that are bothering him, and to comment on everyday reality. Though Kozera has been particularly interested in the collage technique, so close to surrealists, he has permanently borrowed from the experience of painting, drawing and tapestry that he approaches in an extremely individual way, frequently taking from the cannon of Iberian culture. Possibly this is why he favors collage that allows him to develop free association sequences, anecdotes liberated from the narration rigors, and to reveal the "incredible".

Stach Szabłowski, the curator of the An Umbrella in a Mortuary exhibition that was presented in the spring of 2013 at the Academy Salon of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, wrote about Kozera "he approaches the collage as a medium to present a specific diary that not only reflects everyday life of the author but absorbs its fragments". His dynamic works, dense with a multitude of lines, spots and details give an impression of being casual and slightly chaotic, "automatic" notes, and fast, quite vague "childish scribbles" that merely render free, unhindered stream of consciousness. Erudite sets of rebuses, composed out of these, are surprisingly thought over and logical. Grzegorz Kozera seems to act "guided by untamed, mythical thoughts" which brings to one's mind the structural bricolage by Claude Lévi - Stauss. The artist puts all these in order in the manner characteristic of him.

Kozera gladly treats collages as rough drawings for his typical painting pieces. Most frequently he chooses large size canvases. Frames are deprived of stiffened stretchers; on purpose deformed, wrinkled, waved, bent and exposed to paint that is dripping down freely, smearing, piling up in layers, thickening. His graduation diploma work was devoted to man, his condition, identity and fears that he revealed in the form of the imagined, symbolic cover of matter. He has painted the latter in order to tell about social stereotypes, clichés, stigmas, taboos, conservative mentality and fossilized traditions, as well as about human integrity and its transgressions. Originally his painting depicted garments, i.e., trousers, shirts and bras to symbolize anonymous, hypothetical persons, or to be dedicated to them. Being a representation of human existence, clothing articles adopt human qualities, while in culture they are the symbol of man's existence or passing away and oblivion, in other words, death.

Next, the body absorbed garments. The diploma picture shows a surplice with an outline of hair on the chest. Later, this has been replaced with skinned torsos covered with down or bristles to indicate a beastly nature of man. The Protective Colors (2013) picture shows a formless quasi body, deprived of hands, legs and skin, covered with damp patches of blood. The artist exposes what has usually been hidden inside to focus on the fact that an individual is being stripped of intimacy and his integrity is being violated in the contemporary world.

Garments/ bodies and their organs, in various arrangements, peculiar mechanisms, as well as useless objects, i.e., a bleeding shopping bag - have been turned into a metaphor of human fate, the connection between soul and body, and the connection between Eros and Thanatos. Touching upon the erotic, Kozera has been bringing down clichés. "I am the body and I think" - he seems to repeat after Voltaire.

Grzegorz Kozera, Somewhat Strange, the Very White Gallery, Warsaw, January - March 2014.